Scoreboard: Oil sparks markets

A small rebound in the oil price primed offshore sharemarkets, while new data showed a slight pullback in US building permits over November.

In US economic data, housing starts fell by 1.6 per cent in November to a 1.028 million unit pace. Building permits fell by 5.2 per cent in November. Despite the mild pullback the housing sector continues to see healthy improvement. The Markit Flash PMI eased from 54.8 to 53.7 in December -- an 11-month low. A reading above 50 still signalled an expansion in activity. Across the sub-indices output and employment expanded at a slower pace.

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